The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

Greetings, all.
While in general I find that a Steampunk look is created by form, I'm curious what fabrics people have chosen that they feel help create The Look.

I'm a huge fan of quilting prints, and collected quite a few pieces from Andover's Fabrics Typographical Elements Collection a few years back. One piece is going to make a bustled overskirt that's been half-finished for a few years now ;) I'm constantly on the prowl for new quilt print collections that I think could add flavor to a Steampunk sewing project.

I haven't tried ordering from Spoonflower yet, but have heard good things about it. When I put "steampunk" in the site's search engine I discovered a ton of really fabulous designs (I especially like this marriage of gears & Art Nouveau). I've tried my hand at designing my own print based on antique educational cards, and would like to make a corset from it once I have the money to actually purchase yardage. Expensive, but I think it could be worth it for a special project.

What other fabric delights have you discovered?

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i like damask and wall paper prints, velvets, satins, distressed cottons and twill. I love upholstry fabrics in stripes and tapestries, for jackets and bustles, and of course raw silk for bustles and corsets. fun topic!

then you would love my favorite shop, as posted here:

I also love using drapery and upholstery fabrics, especially damasks and jacquards.
In general I keep my eyes open for anything made from natural fibres. Silk, cotton, and wool... I love a good, soft wool... yummy.
One of my favorites thus far has been the canvas from a bunch of old military tents that a friend gave me. It worked great for overcoat and pants material. They're also not that hard to come by. Ebay and Army/Navy stores usually have them for relatively low cost. The only trick is having a stitcher that will handle heavy, tightly woven fabrics. The stuff is fairly stiff and on the heavier side of what most stitchers like to run. Beyond that, I love wool and garment grade leathers (not a fabric, I know) because you can get such a classic and lived in feel out of them.

I absolutely love using military tents and military utilities in general! Twill is really fun to work with as well. I have also made some accessories using jersey and cotton (considering this is Florida and how hot it gets down here). Velvet is very lovely to work with provided that it is not too heavy.


The only material that I have difficulty locating is leather for some reason. A lot of the stores and merchants I deal with only seem to have pleather which is nice for the vegetarian and vegan demographic, but it doesn't have the same feel. Brocade is a lovely fabric to work with for me as well as lace.

You may wish to try eBay.  I have noticed a number of sellers offering leather for sale.  However, it is probably best to do a bit of research beforehand, as this are mostly in the form of skins, of varying grades, thicknesses, and quality, and you would not want to pay a price out of line with what you receive.

sounds brilliant!

I just saw these key print fabrics in various colors, looked very steampunk worthy to me: (also available other stores incl. Amazon)

Personally I favor natural fibers: wool, silk, linen, cotton. And I have a weakness vor velvet, brocades, damask, and stripes.

damask and stripes are very lovely!


Of course every time I am OCD'ing over aligning stripes perfectly neat and symmetrical, I curse myself for my penchant LOL And then, if it comes out the way I wanted, I swell with pride and float away (and try to resist telling everyone "and check out those stripes here, they even line up at the darts and sleeves!"). But seriously, patterns do slow down the process at a lot of steps.

Have yet to tackle plaid, which is same problem as stripes but squared (literally!)...  I have a loverly silk taffeta-ish fabric in charcoal, ivory and crimson plaid waiting on its bolt for me to dive in. May need another go first with a less beloved fabric, I reeeeeeally don't want to ruin this one, which was a remnant and not replaceable (Well, might be able to find some at >$100/yd, which is the same as not available in my world...).

I am a bit of a scavenger and a frugal crafter.


I like to work with bits and pieces that I already have when possible. It is kind of game.  "Can this shirt be steampunked?"


I like to recycle old clothing and other bits of fabric such as table cloths and curtains.


One of my first steampunk sewing projects used a shower curtain as a mock underskirt.  It was one of the nice shower curtains, not a the cheap plastic kind.  I sewed a wide strip of it to a petticoat.  When I put a skirt over it, it looks like an underskirt.


There is a nice cotton print I saw of a world map that I plan to pick up on etsy.  I am working on a pirate themed costume and I think it would go nicely with it.


I like velvets, velveteens, and suede but I tend not to work with them too much because I live in an area that is often hot and humid.


I tend to go with cotton, rayon and lace.  I like silk, but I would like to be a more experienced sewer before I work with it.




I am rather fond of leaves as a motif for fabrics, and I have seen some stunningly beautiful Victorians era fabrics with leaves and vines. Alas, modern prints tend to be, well, not anywhere near as elegant, in my opinion. So while it isn't anything special, really, I had a little "oh wow, this is not too bad" moment when I saw this, at less than $4 a yard (plus shipping), in cotton - or 80-20 cotton-linen blend, which is great too, they list what looks like the exact same fabric twice with different fiber and price (?!). I ordered some, and hope it does look nice when you get a fuller view of it. If not it's not such a disaster at the price, I'd try to give it away if I'm disappointed. I also think it has a little bit of a Japanese feel to it. It will need either layering for a floaty 1900s type of thing, or flat lining if it's to be used for any shaping like a bodice, since I expect it will be quite thin (they call it a cotton gauze). I haven't decided yet, will have to see how it handles, though the motif suggests 1870s-1880s styles more than 1890s-1900s to me. Could be dyed too.


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